Calcutta, Nov. 6: Nine months have passed, but the Maidan still bears the scars of the last book fair. And the time is near for another, with promises from the chief minister that on the other side of the fair lies a greener Maidan.
Maybe, maybe not. The evidence certainly doesn’t suggest so.
On February 15, the Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Guild had shown the army, the custodian of the Maidan, the fancy China grass it had planted after the fair was over. It was to be a token show of their concern.
Today, only a few blades survive, most of the rest of the patch is bald.
“I have been visiting this place every day for the last six months but don’t recall seeing anyone turning to take a look at the grass here,” said Asim Das, the coach-cum-referee of a small Maidan club.
Forget fresh greenery, even the debris of the last fair remains. Concrete CESC covers lie at the spot where the guild had set up a control room. Cables jut out from pillars near the adjacent pond. Red soil peeps through vast patches of rugged ground.
“It’s pointless trading charges. We too believe in a clean and green Maidan. Last time we had sought four months to clean up and re-do the entire plot of land,” said Tridib Kumar Chatterjee, the general secretary of the book fair.
The pond has become a floating dumping ground. The area where the main auditorium for the fair was set up is still cratered.
Farther away, towards the Elliot Park end, a dump of waste the army had asked the guild to clear up lies unattended. Weeds and wild grass have grown on it.